News & Politics

Conservative Hero Cliven Bundy Spins Out of Control, Claims Blacks Would Be Better Off as Slaves

Bundy has been using his new-found fame to hold press conferences where he talks about his political views.

Members of the Bundy family, part of a group involved in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Conservative icon Cliven Bundy told the New York Times that African Americans would probably be better off if they were still slaves. 

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Bundy, who became famous last month as he battled the Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights on federal land has used his new fame to speak from a bully pulpit, expressing his ultra-conservative views. The comments were made Saturday at a news conference that he held, according to the Times story. 

Top right-wing pundit and politicians have hailed Bundy as a folk hero and patriot. His cheering section includes talk-radio host Sean Hannity, Senators and presidential hopefuls Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, Nevada Senator Dean Heller, and Texas gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Greg Abbot.  The National Review Online, Fox & Friends, and American Thinker have also supported Bundy and blamed the federal government for mounting tensions

Bundy is a multimillionaire cattle rancher in southeastern Nevada. He's been in a 20-plus year dispute with the Bureau of Land Management over unpaid grazing fees. In recent weeks, it developed into an armed confrontation between protesters and law enforcement after the BLM began rounding up Bundy's cattle that were trespassing on the land. While doing so, BLM agents were confronted by protesters and armed supporters of Bundy.

The dispute began in 1993 when Bundy refused to pay bills to the US government for his cattle grazing on public domain lands. In 1998, Bundy was prohibited from grazing his cattle on the land by a federal court order, after years of repeated violations. 

Cliff Weathers is a former senior editor at AlterNet and served as a deputy editor at Consumer Reports. Twitter @cliffweathers.